Musings from Mike Atkinson on Internet strategy, usability, and more...

Back to basics

Jakob Nielsen’s latest Alertbox column – Growing a Business Website: Fix the Basics First – is an exceptional reminder of what’s most important for organizational websites: Clear communication…whether that’s through simple, scannable text or clear, comprehensible photos.

Here are his three [duh] design principles:

  • Communicating clearly so that users understand you. Users allocate minimal time to initial website visits, so you must quickly convince them that the site’s worthwhile.
  • Providing information users want. Users must be able to easily determine whether your services meet their needs and why they should do business with you.
  • Offering simple, consistent page design, clear navigation, and an information architecture that puts things where users expect to find them.

He’s critical of what he calls the “Internet elite experience,” or Internet insiders who care about the ‘Net for its own sake. Nielsen drills home the undeniable truth: “In contrast, average users just want to complete tasks online. They don’t particularly like the Web, and they’d like to get back to their jobs or families as quickly as possible.”

And, most importantly, “one of usability’s most hard-earned lessons is that ‘you are not the user.’”


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